Some may call opening a restaurant like Teranga risky, but to chef and owner Marie-Claude Mendy it was a very calculated dream that came true. A lesson in dedication, Marie-Claude opened Teranga after taking seven years to develop her business plan and to find the ideal location for her restaurant: Boston's South End. Financial analyst by day and a chef and restaurateur by night or weekend, Marie-Claude opened Teranga in 2009, the first and only Senegalese restaurant in Boston.
Like Andres Branger of Orinoco, Marie-Claude had lived in the neighborhood for several years before opening Teranga. She loved the feel of the South End with its lovely architecture and parks. Most of all she recognized how many wonderful and diverse restaurants were opening up around her and how welcoming the neighborhood was to different cuisines. The South End is a true culinary destination where diners can explore a variety of cuisines, thus it was the perfect location to serve up Senegal's unique dishes.
Chef Marie-Claude Mendy is a hoot. She made me feel right at home in her restaurant and the jokes and boogie breaks kept us all laughing throughout our shoot. In the kitchen, Marie-Claude and I bonded over a shared love of black-eyed peas and millet, two of the many ingredients commonly used and grown in Senegal. Marie-Claude taught me a whole new approach to skinning peas and using grey millet in a dessert called Thiacry. I also never thought that spring rolls would be on the menu at an African restaurant but, as Marie-Claude explains, Senegal and Vietnam were both French colonies and so there is some influence and overlap of the two cuisines.
After making Accara, black-eyed pea fritters, we went on to make Thiebou Yapp, a lamb and broken jasmine rice dish. All of the flavors from the lamb, spices, and vegetables slowly cooking with the rice were so rich and satisfying. Arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) are two of my Puerto Rican comfort foods and now I can add this rice and lamb dish to the rotation…just in time for fall and winter!
I learned so much about Senegalese culture and cuisine and discovered new uses for ingredients I commonly cook with in my visit to Teranga. Even more exciting, I left inspired by Marie-Claude's exuberance and commitment to her dreams. Did I mention she speaks five languages and decided to settle in Boston only after living in Dakar, Paris, London, and Washington, DC? She's an amazing woman. Teranga may be her first restaurant, but I am sure it will not be her last culinary offering in New England.
*****Visit Neighborhood Kitchens online to learn more about Teranga in Boston's South End.
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About Neighborhood KitchensBuilding on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
About the Author
On the GoIn each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!
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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits
»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
»Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer
»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi
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